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Joseph Garner, D.Phil., Professor, received his doctoral degree from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, Great Britain, where he studied the developmental neuroethology of stereotypies in captive animals (1995-1999). His postdoctoral research in animal behavior and wellbeing was undertaken at UC Davis (1999-2004). He served as an Assistant (2004-2010) and an Associate (2010-2011) Professor of animal behavior and wellbeing in the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University, where he also held a courtesy appointment in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (2009-2011). Dr. Garner joined the Department of Comparative Medicine at Stanford in 2011. Here he oversees 3R’s services (Biostatistics consulting, Environmental enrichment & Behavioral management, Breeding colony management, Apparatus design & 3D printing) that help researchers implement new and emerging technologies, techniques and best practices in animal research that benefit both the wellbeing of research animals and the effectiveness, efficiency, reproducibility and translatability of the research.The overarching theme of Dr. Garner’s research is understanding why most drugs (and other basic science findings) fail to translate into human outcomes; the role that animal models, animal methodology, and animal wellbeing play in in these failures; and developing new approaches to animal research which improve the translation and benefits of animal work through improvements in the wellbeing of animal participants. He is an internationally recognized expert in the behavior and wellbeing of laboratory mice, and abnormal behavior in animals in general, including awards from the National Center for the 3Rs (UK), the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, the Swiss Laboratory Animal Science Association, and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. His current human health research is focused on animal and human studies in autism, trichotillomania, and compulsive skin-picking. The question driving all of this work is “Why does one sibling become ill and another does not?”, and the goal is to identify biomarkers leading to screening, prevention and personalized treatment options. Recognition of his work in human health includes being selected for Spectrum’s Ten Notable Papers in Autism Research for both 2017 and 2018. His publication record includes over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, including papers in Science, PNAS, and Nature Methods.Dr. Garner serves, or has served, as a council member for the International Society for Applied Ethology, an Editor for Applied Animal Behavior Science, a Special Topics section editor for the Journal of Animal Science, on the AAALAC Board of Trustees, on the SCAW Board of Trustees, on the NA3RsC board, on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Trichotillomania Learning Center, the Tourette Association of America, and the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.
North American 3Rs Collaborative
Scientific Advisory Board Member
Tourette Syndrome Association
Trichotillomania Learning Center
Member of editorial board
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Member of editorial board (special topics section)
Journal of Animal Science
Governing Council Member
International Society for Applied Ethology
Board of Trustees
I am fundamentally interested in the positive and negative impacts of translation in human and animal well-being – including both “forward translation” from animal work to human outcomes, but also “reverse translation” from human measures and interventions to animals. For example, roughly 90% of drugs fail in translation, and the majority of these failures are due to a lack of efficacy. The financial, societal, and ethical costs of these failures are staggering. Accordingly, the overarching theme of my research is understanding why most drugs (and other basic science findings) fail to translate into human outcomes, the role that animal models and animal methodology play in in these failures, and in developing new approaches to improve the translation of animal research while also improving well-being. I am particularly interested in biomarker-based personalized medicine as a general solution, and much of my research program focuses on developing methodologies for biomarker-based animal models (e.g. biostatistics; individual differences in risk and response; animal housing, behavior and well-being; reverse-translated assays and automated instrumentation). On the animal well-being side of my research, my work on the role of biostatistics and experimental design in improving both animal well-being and scientific outcomes includes a series of papers in Nature Methods, as well as papers in the MRC (UK) and the National Academies’ policy journals (NC3Rs Journal, and ILAR journal). We recently completed a long arc of work on the implementation and benefits (to science, well-being, and breeding) of nesting material for mice. Early papers in this program are referenced in new federal policy for mouse housing, and the body of work as a whole has won three major international awards. We are currently working on other major health and well-being issues in mice (particularly aggression and ulcerative dermatitis), including the first report of an effective treatment for ulcerative dermatitis. Our current NIH funding in this area is for the reverse-translation and validation of human measures of pain for use in mice, as a solution to the issues that current mouse measures of pain present for translational research. I also work extensively in human health, both as a researcher and an advocate. My current human health research is focused on autism, trichotillomania and skin-picking. The question driving all of this work is “Why does one sibling become ill and another does not?”, and the goal is to identify biomarkers leading to screening, prevention and personalized treatment options. My early work in autism reverse-translated neuropsychological biomarkers of frontal executive function for use in mice and other animals, and established spontaneous stereotypies as a model of stereotypies (identical repetitive movements) in autism. My current work in autism (in collaboration with colleagues at Stanford, UCSF and UC Davis) is focused on biomarkers, genetic risk factors, and associated potential therapeutics targeting oxytocin and vasopressin and the relationship to social deficits in autistic patients and primate models. Trichotillomania and Skin Picking Disorder are extremely prevalent (trichotillomania affects approximately 3.5% of women), underserved, and hidden disorders, with severe impacts on life functioning and potentially life-threatening medical complications. My lab is the only lab working on animal models for either disorder. In mice we have identified underlying disease processes, biomarkers predictive of later onset, preventative interventions, and most recently, a novel and highly effective treatment (intranasal glutathione).